Market Updates: Frozen Food Stagnant, Gluten-Free Growing

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Those in the frozen food sector probably wish that their sales were frozen as well. According to a new market report from Packaged Facts, not only are sales not growing, they aren’t even remaining stable, as they fell by around 1% in 2013. However, natural and organic frozen food products are providing some hope that consumers will come back to the category.

Consumers view frozen foods as convenient, but for obvious reasons they suffer from the stigma that they are generally not fresh or healthy. The report, Frozen Foods in the U.S.: Hot Meals, Sides, and Snacks, reveals that companies have ramped up introduction of natural and organic frozen products in an effort to win back some shoppers. “These organic and natural frozen foods appeal to the consumer who is both cost conscious and health conscious,” said Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle in a statement. Over the next five years, the report projects the entire frozen food category will trend back up, even if only slightly. Sales should top $23 billion in 2019, up from $22 billion in 2014.

As frozen foods fight for their position in shopping carts, the gluten-free mega-trend keeps marching on as the category nears the $1 billion annual sales milestone. Packaged Facts reports gluten-free products saw $973 million in sales in 2014, with no signs of slowing, in its report titled Gluten-Free Foods in the U.S., 5th Edition. Those numbers are predicted to more than double by 2019.

Developments like Pizza Hut’s decision to begin offering gluten-free pizza, prepared using procedures certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group, are a sign of how mainstream the phenomenon has become. “Retailers have embraced the gluten-free trend by stocking more gluten-free items, featuring them in store, and launching their own private label brands. In addition, retail chains have been courting the gluten-free consumer with a variety of festivals and events,” said Sprinkle.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2015